10 thoughts on the 2023 Blue Jays after 10 games
Photo credit:Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
7 months ago
Can you already believe we’re ten games into the season and we’re already into the middle portion of April?
The Blue Jays are finally returning from a 10-game road trip to start their season and will play their first home game on Tuesday. It seems fitting that there are 10 thoughts through the first 10 games.
6-4 ain’t bad:
After 10 road games to start the season, owning a 60% winning record really isn’t bad. Sure, it isn’t as good as the American League East-leading Tampa Bay Rays, who’ve won their first nine games, but 6-4 ain’t bad.
Considering they played the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels, two teams that could possibly make the playoffs, coming home 6-4 is solid.
Moreover, they’ve won their last two series, so that’s a good rate!
Let’s talk about Brandon Belt:
Whether a player has been good or bad in the early going of the season, the usual caveat of “it’s a small sample size” applies.
With that being said, Brandon Belt just hasn’t looked good two weeks into the season. The 34-year-old is slashing just .043/.120/.087 in his 25 plate appearances. Moreover, he has an incredibly high 60 K% (15 strikeouts) and a BB% of 8%.
Although I don’t think Belt would be cut at any point, former Blue Jay Jarrod Saltalamacchia was cut after 26 plate appearances in 2017. He had a similar .040/.077/.040 slash line, with a 61.5 K% and a 3.4 BB%, after which he was cut.
Obviously, Belt will get a little bit more leeway, but he’s going to lose his at bats if he doesn’t play better soon.
Matt Chapman wants the bag:
As you probably know, Matt Chapman will become a free agent after the season is up. What’s more, he knows it, as he’s already accumulated a 1 fWAR.
In his 44 plate appearances, he’s slashing an insane .475/.523/.800 with two homers (including a huge grand slam on Sunday) and a 20.2 K%, which would be the lowest in his career.
Chapman will be the only third baseman available this upcoming free agency, so even if he continues at half the pace, the Jays may not be able to sign him. With that being said, if he produces a Semien-like season, the Jays get a compensation pick, and Addison Barger or Orelvis Martinez has a good season in 2024, I’m okay with that.
As I was writing this article, Chapman won the American League Player of the Week.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has had a fantastic start to his 2023 season:
A big reason why Guerrero Jr. had an MVP-like season in 2021 was due to a fantastic start to his season.
Well, he has once again had a fantastic start to his 2023 season. In 49 plate appearances, he has a .439/.510/.610 slash line with two homers. What’s more impressive is his 10.2 BB% and an incredibly low 6.1 K%. In fact, he has struck out just three times all season, one more strikeout than homers.
Furthermore, his 22 hard-hit balls (95+ mph) rank second only behind Matt Chapman, who has 24.
So yeah, please re-sign Vlad to a lifetime contract.
September Bo Bichette in April:
From August 21st 2022 to the end of the 2022 season, Bichette was slashing .386/.435/.608 with seven homers in just 186 plate appearances. Prior to this point in the season, he had a .256/.295/.420 slash line with 17 homers in 511 plate appearances for a 103 wRC+.
That hot streak boosted his slash line to .290/.333/.469 with a 129 wRC+.
Well, Bo Bichette has also started the 2023 season hot, slashing .362/.400/.596 with three homers (leads the team) in 50 plate appearances. He also has a 180 wRC+ and a 0.5 fWAR.
Hopefully, he can keep it up, as we move to some notes about pitching.
Is the starting pitching good enough?:
In early February, I posted an article about the backend of the starting rotation.
The fifth starter, Yusei Kikcuhi, has a 6.75 ERA and a 7.90 FIP in 9.1 innings pitched. His BB% has dropped from 12.8% to 5%, but his K% also dropped from 27.3% to 20%. He’s also given up four homers, which is rather problematic.
If we look at conventional stats such as ERA, José Berríos is even worse. He has allowed 12 earned runs in just 9.2 innings pitched, which is an awful 11.17 ERA. However, he also has a 3.19 FIP and has a 26.4 K%, and 6.5 BB%. He hasn’t been good, but he definitely isn’t as bad as his ERA suggests.
Either way, they have a combined 9 ERA in the 19 innings they’ve pitched, and this doesn’t even include Chris Bassitt, who is rocking a 10.61 ERA and 10.90 FIP in 9.1 innings.
So yeah, starting pitch needs to be better.
Manoah had a tough opening day, allowing five earned runs and nine hits in just 3.1 innings pitched. However, like the ace he is, he pitched seven scoreless innings in his second start, dropping his ERA from 13.50 to 4.35.
One area of concern with Manoah is his elevated 12.8 BB%. Last season, it sat at 6.5%, but he has struggled with control in his first two games.
Either way, he’ll have a chance to improve the numbers in the Blue Jays’ home opener on Tuesday.
It’s not a hot take to say that Kevin Gausman has been the best Blue Jays pitcher. In 12 innings pitched, he hasn’t allowed an earned run and has a great FIP of 1.81. Moreover, he has a 27.5 K% and a 5.9 BB% for a 21.6 K-BB%.
His BABIP continues to be high, as batters have a .353 BABIP against Gausman, but he’s been effective in limiting runs when there is traffic on the bases.
Not much else to say about Gausman, we’re just lucky to have him.
What to make of the bullpen:
Looking at the bullpen, the Blue Jays have two relievers with a sub-2.00 ERA. Adam Cimber (1.50 ERA/6.56 FIP, 6 IP) and Zach Pop (1.80 ERA/5FIP, 5 IP.) They have three others under a 4 ERA, Yimi García (3.50 ERA/2.60 FIP, 5 IP), Erik Swanson (3.38 ERA/4.52 FIP, 5.1 IP), and Tim Mayza (3 ERA/0.73 FIP, 3 IP).
Jordan Romano has a 5.40 ERA, specifically because of the blown save on Sunday when he allowed three earned runs. However, he still has a 2.40 FIP.
Anthony Bass and Trevor Richards have statistically been the most worrisome. Starting with Richards, he has a 7.36 ERA and 7.76 FIP in 3.2 innings pitched. While his 27.3 K% is the second highest in the pen, he has an incredibly high 18.2 BB%. It’s worth mentioning that the only earned runs against were rather unlucky.
Bass’ struggles are surprising, to say the least. He has the highest ERA in the bullpen (8.10) and the second-highest FIP (7.30). Small sample size is the only time I believe xFIP is a viable stat, and in that regard, he has a 3.88. Not bad at all.
The moral of the story is that the bullpen hasn’t been bad, and we should wait until at least May before we call for some DFA’s.
The schedule ahead:
On Tuesday, April 11th, the Blue Jays will make their home debut against the Detroit Tigers. It will be a three-game set, before a weekend series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Afterward, they’ll be back on the road to take on the 2022 World Series Champs, the Houston Astros on April 17th.
To round out the month, they’ll face the Yankees for three games in New York, the White Sox for three games at home, and three games against the Seattle Mariners, also at home.
Tough schedule to start the season, but the Blue Jays are a good team.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Brennan_L_D.
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